Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art

Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art

Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Running Time: 
112 minutes

Underground street artist Banksy has become a household name, both in and outside of the art world thanks to his brilliant creative works as well as the mystery surrounding his identity. Over the years his art pieces have become more complex in their social commentary and expanded outside the realm of mere drawings in many cases. His documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010 pushed him further into the spotlight, and he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. The new documentary, Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art, follows the early days of Bansky through his more recent years and paints a portrait of who the person is behind the wall while also diving into graffiti culture as a whole. The film gets off to a rocky start, but stick with it and you’ll be left captivated and inspired.


Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art begins and ends with the 2018 sale of Banksy’s piece Balloon Girl, in which immediately following its sale at auction for £1.04m, the piece was shredded to pieces by a rigged frame set up by the artist himself. Of course, that only made the piece worth even more in the end. While Banksy is the meat of the documentary, the film spends the early portion of it explaining the culture behind graffiti art and how it got its influences from music, other art, etc. While it’s informative, I couldn’t help but be bored with its presentation. The film covers a lot in the first half hour or so and it all feels very broad and kept me wondering, “I thought this was supposed to be about Bansky?” I understand that a refresher is needed, especially if you know nothing about the given subject, but it all felt like a little too much.


Thankfully, once the film returns focus to Bansky himself things start to become more interesting again. While I’ve been aware of Bansky for quite some time now, I wasn’t familiar with his early days when he was doing lettering and not the kind of stuff he’s known for now. It was fascinating to see some of his early work, and I was even stunned when they showed interviews or photos of Bansky, given his anonymity. Sure, he never shows his face, but I still always imagined him being in the shadows. Even though his identity is still a mystery to the public, the documentary does a good job at showing audiences just who Bansky is.


Unlike Exit Through the Gift Shop, there’s no trickery involved or attempt to turn itself into a creative statement of sorts as Bansky isn’t directly involved. It’s simply a solid and informative documentary. Whether you’re a fan of him or are just aware of his name, Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art is a worthwhile documentary that showcases why Bansky has become the icon that he has become.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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